Ecological economist to speak Aug. 19

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Robert Costanza is a leading scholar in the growing field of ecological economics

Robert Costanza is a leading scholar in the growing field of ecological economics.


The researcher who helped put a dollar figure on the world's ecosystems is coming to campus.

Robert Costanza, a Pew scholar, Kellogg scholar and director of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont, is scheduled to speak 9 a.m. Aug. 19 in Stewart Hall's Ritsche Auditorium. A question-and-answer session will follow.

Costanza's presentation will keynote Convocation 2009, St. Cloud State University's four-day assembly of employees, ideas and information. The leading theme of this year's convocation is environmental sustainability.

In 1997, Costanza and 12 scholars from around the world published an article in the journal Nature that valued the world's ecosystems:

The services of ecological systems and the natural capital stocks that produce them are critical to the functioning of the Earth’s life-support system. They contribute to human welfare, both directly and indirectly, and therefore represent part of the total economic value of the planet.We have estimated the current economic value of 17 ecosystem services for 16 biomes, based on published studies and a few original calculations. For the entire biosphere, the value (most of which is outside the market) is estimated to be in the range of US$16–54 trillion (1012) per year, with an average of US$33trillion per year. Because of the nature of the uncertainties, this must be considered a minimum estimate.

By comparison, global gross national product total is about $18 trillion per year.

View the seven-page article, "The value of the world’s ecosystem
services and natural capital"
(PDF), published by permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd: Nature 387, 253-260 (15 May 1997).

Recently, Costanza has been presenting on the idea that the global recession is an opportunity to create a sustainable and desirable future.

He holds a doctorate in systems ecology with a minor in economics from the University of Florida.

The Pittsburgh native is the author or co-author of more than 300 scientific articles. Since 1987, he has been cited in more than 3,000 scientific articles. More than 80 interviews and reports on his work have appeared in media such as Newsweek, US News and World Report, The Economist, The New York Times, Science, Nature, National Geographic and National Public Radio.

Convocation 2009 is managed by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, St. Cloud State's engine for inquiry and critical engagement.

Visit Costanza's Web page.


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